Consultancy support for directors and boards

This could mean anything, couldn’t it?

And that’s just the point. We’re here to help you with advice and support on virtually any boardroom issue you care to name.

We have an outstanding team of specialist consultants who have supported a wide range of organisations on many different issues. They’d be more than happy to discuss a specific issue with you, on a ‘no obligation’ basis, so that you can see whether they might be of service to you.

Put us to the test!

Annual Report benchmarking

Our consultants provide benchmarked assessments of where your organisation is positioned against a pre-specified peer / best practice reporting group. Our approach will help to show reporting progression over several reporting periods; support changes to legacy reporting styles and refresh corporate reporting approach; provide confidence to the Board that reporting disclosures are being met; and provide reassurance on relative reporting position.

Sam is our lead consultant in this specialist area.

Assurance mapping

How well developed are your risk mitigation plans?

Do you know what assurance exists in your organisation, who it is provided by, to whom it is reported, and the purpose of that assurance activity?

Our consultants can facilitate and support the development of an assurance map to help the board or audit committee gain a better view of the assurance it requires, and how and where this is provided. Our services are designed to help boards have a clearer view of the information, insight and assurance available to support informed decision making.

Rachel is our lead consultant in this specialist area.

Board evaluation

Our consultants provide facilitated board evaluations designed to meet the specific needs of organisations wanting to assess the effectiveness of their boards.

Our board evaluation service focuses on introducing external expertise and best practice to your existing board behaviours and processes. Our approach acknowledges organisational distinctiveness, while recognising that many of the issues occupying the minds of board members are universal.

Our consultants encourage board members to take time out to explore and assess their skills and the board practices necessary to gain an understanding of the organisations they lead and the increasingly dynamic nature of the marketplace and environments in which they operate. We provide a tried and tested process for evaluating a board, including the complex and sensitive nature of boardroom dynamics, behaviours, culture and processes as well as assessing the quality and flow of information available to the board.

Sam is our lead consultant in this area, complemented by Mark and with Amanda for VCSEs and David for international boards.

Board reviews

Some organisations undertake a formal board review on a regular basis, typically every five years. Others do it on an entirely ad hoc basis, sometimes to address a specific failing, sometimes as part of a succession plan, sometimes to equip a growing organisation for the next stage of its development.

So you might well be an experienced director without having gone through a formal board review exercise. What should you expect? And what are the benefits?

It’s not ‘a one size fits all’ process. It’s important that we understand your objectives for the exercise. We’ll adjust our approach to your objectives. We might challenge your objectives too, if we think there’s a better way of adding value. It’s important that the process is independent, objective, confidential and a worthwhile investment of time and money.

With that caveat in mind, a typical formal review might be structured around five discrete stages:

  • Stage 1 – getting to know the organisation

This includes agreeing the parameters of our work with you, understanding your objectives, confidential review of governance documentation (to get a sense of your organisation’s culture and tone at board level), preparing a questionnaire for the next stage

  • Stage 2 – sounding out the individual directors

This is usually done via a confidential written questionnaire, to gauge the actual practice of the board (rather than just the theory), compilation of initial findings and report back to primary stakeholders (eg, Chair and Company Secretary)

  • Stage 3 – getting to know the individual directors

The questionnaire is just a starting point – the real issues can only be uncovered through confidential one-to-one conversations with the individual directors (in person if possible but over the phone or via Zoom if not)

  • Stage 4 – reporting back

Our consultant will write an initial report and recommendations, based on their findings. This is reviewed with the primary stakeholders, finalised, and presented to the board by the consultant (online or in person at a board meeting)

  • Stage 5 – embedding

Implementation of recommendations is down to the board, of course, but we usually help kick-start the process by running a development session for the board on governance best practice and the rationale for the recommendations, which finishes with facilitation of an action planning exercise to ensure timely and frictionless implementation

The benefits vary hugely from client to client, depending on their starting points and objectives. At a generic level, it’s a way of benchmarking the board against current best practice, identifying scope for improvement, and helping develop an action plan to achieve those improvements. At a more detailed level, it might help resolve conflict within the board, address a structural issue, smooth a transition, revitalise the board, improve the performance of individual directors, raise attention from operational issues to the strategic direction of the organisation.

Mark and Sam are our lead consultants in this area, with Amanda for VCSEs and David for international boards. Give us a call on 01582 463465 if you’d like a no-obligation phone call with one of them to discuss the possibility of a board review for your organisation.

Board team dynamics

Are your top team working together as a well-oiled machine? Or are there some dynamics playing out that are getting in the way of delivering the best work? Is this affecting your performance?

Because top teams aren’t machines, we’re here to help you on some of the human behaviours that can cause team and organisation-wide issues.

We can help you diagnose the issues and recommend possible courses of action. Depending on your particular requirements, you might want to consider a boardroom team dynamics programme along the lines of the one described here or you might prefer a different approach. There’s no end of options and our consultants would be happy to advise you on them.

Clare is our lead consultant in this area.

Board team performance

Are you looking to galvanise your top team to reach the highest levels of team and organisation performance?

Our coaches and consultants offer a unique blend of tailored approaches to developing boardroom teams. Depending on your particular requirements, you might want to consider a team coaching programme along the lines of the one described here or you might prefer a different approach. There’s no end of options and our consultants would be happy to advise you on them.

Clare and Alastair are our lead consultants in this area, with Amanda for VCSEs.

Business model review

Our consultants can work with your senior management team to conduct an effective review of your business model designed to unlock value creation potential. Support is provided to help you clearly and succinctly communicate your business model to a variety of stakeholders. Our consultants will assess the alignment of your value proposition across different stakeholder audiences to improve the power and authenticity of your message. Overall, our approach enables you to clearly articulate purpose and long-term sustainable value creation.

Sam and Mark are our lead consultants in this area, with Paul for detailed modelling, David for international operations and (another) David for VCSE and public sector corporate venturing.

Corporate messaging

We can provide support and facilitation services to work with key personnel and stakeholders to identify core messages, themes and reporting style. Our services are designed to support organisations with a range of disclosures including S.172 disclosures and integrated reporting as well as a range of communication collateral designed for a variety of audiences.

We can also support directors and others in the personal delivery of the corporate message – whether that’s addressing shareholders, investors, clients or staff.

Sam is our lead consultant in this area, with Susie for support in personal delivery.

Culture change

Culture change doesn’t just happen – or, at least, rarely in a good way.

If you have concerns about your organisation’s culture – whether based on engagement surveys, customer data, adverse press or social media comment or simply anecdotal evidence – then, at board level, you should be considering what to do about it.

We can help advise on this. You might want a brief preliminary consultation with our consultant to discuss options, you might want a ‘boardoom briefing’ or an action-focused half-day workshop (perhaps along the lines of the one shown here). You might want support developing a full-scale change programme. Whatever you’re looking for in this area, our team would be delighted to support you.

Clare is our lead consultant in this area.

Cyber crime

Have you assessed your vulnerability to cyber crime?

Are you aware of the risks?

Are you completely secure from:

  • Ransomware
  • Distributed denial of service attacks
  • Social media hacks
  • Data theft
  • Supply chain compromises
  • Fake news and disinformation campaigns
  • Phishing scams
  • Hacking
  • Identity fraud?

If you have any concerns around cyber crime, how to prevent it, or how to deal with it then we can support you with risk evaluation, contingency planning and governance advice.

Stephen is our lead consultant in this area.

Exit planning

At some point, you will no doubt consider exiting, fully or partially, from your business. Do you have a clear strategy for this? Even if your planned exit is some years from now, there are processes and disciplines that you should put in place now in order for the eventual exit to be smooth and successful.

There are, of course, a number of different possible exit strategies, each with their advantages and disadvantages and each with different requirements in terms of your involvement in the process and your continuing commitment post-exit. We can help you evaluate the different alternatives, to identify which course of action fits most neatly with your own ambitions. And, if necessary, we can help you take the necessary steps.

David is our lead consultant in this area.

Financial health-check

In today’s world of integrated reporting, heavy reliance on relational database IT systems, and over-use of spreadsheets for figure projection, it is easy to kid ourselves that the plan looks solid and that we have a coherent financial model. Regrettably, almost all companies that go into liquidation have also relied upon such bravado. As human beings we find it easy to build a belief in our own creations.

When did you last ask an informed and experienced outsider to just lift the lid, take a look and challenge you with some awkward but focused questions? The best that can happen is that you receive assurance that you have thought about different scenarios; on the other hand, you might find that there are gaps that need plugging!

We are used to rapidly analysing figures in the context of the real world of a particular business, with its micro and macro forces and discreetly help you challenge your business viability in today’s rapidly changing environment. This can be a short, sharp, discrete and defined piece of work, or a regular health-check to help you maintain momentum — the choice is yours.

Mark is our lead consultant in this area, with David in Europe.

Financial strategy

You have the ideas and the creativity to be driving your business forward, you are the entrepreneur, the creator, the motivator, the leader, the manager, the owner. You have fantastic plans and objectives, you know what you want to achieve, what you want to build, and what you want to earn from it — now and in the future.

That’s all great, but have you really underpinned your business vision and plan with a sound and flexible financial strategy? Do you fully understand the relationship between profitability, wealth and cash? Have you built a robust model that identifies the core drivers and can help you to rapidly challenge different scenarios? How far ahead have you looked? How many ‘what if’ questions have you asked?

Our experience will rapidly help you to consider the appropriateness of your current financial strategy, and then help you to build and own a more thorough and robust approach to the future viability of your organisation.

Mark is our lead consultant in this area, along with Paul, and with David in Europe.

Investment funding

Would your business benefit from additional finance? Have you considered the various alternatives?

  • Bank debt
  • Additional shareholders
  • Angel investors
  • Venture capitalists
  • Government grants
  • Stock exchange listing

There are advantages and disadvantages to each of these, which we can talk through with you. You will also want to know how to go about identifying appropriate funding sources and what the process would be for achieving investment. You will also want to know how much it is likely to cost you in time and fees, what restrictions might be made on how you operate in future and what return the investing body will expect on their investment.

This is an opportunity to get genuinely independent advice on what’s possible and whether it’s worth it before you start engaging with potential funding providers.

David is our lead consultant in this area.

IT governance

How confident are you that your organisation is fully covered in terms of IT-related risks and governance?

It’s a continually evolving field requiring constant vigilance, whether you’re at the forefront of the use of technology or whether you’re more concerned about its potential mis-use.

Is your organisation proof from:

  • Back-up failure
  • accidental loss or release of data
  • employee negligence and worse
  • Wireless, remote working and cloud technology
  • Social media – internal and external reputational risks?

If you have any concerns around IT governance and security we can support you with risk evaluation, contingency planning and practical advice.

Stephen is our lead consultant in this area.

Leadership

Many individuals reach senior positions in organisations as a result of being a founder, having valuable technical skills, or having specific market knowledge and relationships. Not all of these individuals have had the opportunity to reflect on and develop their leadership skills as individuals nor within a team. Yet as an organisation grows and employs increasing numbers of people the ability to lead and inspire many individuals, some of whom you will never know closely, becomes a fundamental part of the role. Our consultants work with Boards and Exec teams to help them understand best practice leadership and to identify their strengths and development needs as leaders. We help leaders to develop practical steps they can take to develop leadership capabilities as individuals and as an effective team. The precise steps required vary from individual to individual, board to board, and can include any of a number of different styles of intervention, eg, one-to-one coaching and mentoring, profiling and assessment, team workshops, and formal development programmes.

Alastair is one of our lead consultants and mentors in this wide-ranging area, supported by fellow mentors Mark, David (international) and Amanda (VCSEs), fellow coaches Elizabeth and Richard, and fellow facilitators and trainers Cyrus and David.

Purpose, culture and values

Our consultants work with Boards and Exec teams to identify why they do what they do and to reflect their core values and beliefs. Boards’ behaviours establish the tone at the top of an organisation and a clear culture that is role modelled from above and embedded throughout is a powerful driver of organisational success, both financially and in achieving broader purpose. Purpose and values shape culture and our consultants will help you to explore a clear sense of purpose built around a set of values that will drive decision-making and behaviours throughout the organisation.

SamAlastair, Mark and Clare are our lead consultants in this area, with Amanda for VCSEs.

Refreshing the board pack

Our consultants can work with your board members, company secretary and senior management team to help you refresh the board pack. We can assist in clarity of messaging, reviewing what information is required and from where, and ensuring that the board receives timely, focused and relevant information to support effective decision-making.

Using an information needs analysis linked to your strategic priorities, regulatory requirements and business risks, we can help turn lengthy board packs into shorter, focused packs which clearly signpost where decisions are required and which facilitate constructive boardroom discussions.

We can also help staff members who support the board to develop their skills to ensure concise board papers and briefings.

Rachel leads the team in this area.

Reputation and risk

How do you know what your various stakeholders think of you? Do they trust you? Do they rely on you? Do they resent you? Do they see you as a partner or a challenge? We all know the maxim ‘we are only as good as our last deal’.

These and many other such dimensions can create, build, sustain, and destroy organisational and individual reputation. ‘The bubble reputation’ is the most intangible of all risks and yet ultimately its loss can be the factor that drives a rapid move to tangible risk and corporate failure. Loss of reputation in itself will not necessarily close the business, but financial consequences can follow rapidly.

We can help you take a holistic look at your reputation, and whether it matters — today and/or tomorrow. Every business is different, so this is not an ‘off-the-shelf’ approach, although we will use tried-and-tested methodologies to help you to assess your business. We can’t maintain your reputation for you, but we can help you to assess and mitigate the risks that inevitably surround that reputation.

Mark is our lead consultant in this area.

Risk management

As organisations grow, putting in place a formal approach to risk management becomes essential and risk reporting is now a fundamental part of governance codes and reporting requirements. Our consultants can work with you to help you develop and implement a risk management framework which not only meets regulatory requirements but, far more importantly, helps you build a culture and capability of risk management across the organisation which will increase value creation and support the long term sustainability of the business. We can also work with you to help you understand the specific roles that the Board and Exec team have in creating a risk aware culture, in setting a corporate risk appetite and in assuring the level of risk that the business faces.

Alastair is one of our lead consultants in this area, along with Rachel, Sam and Mark, and with David in Europe.

Stakeholder engagement

Our consultants can help you develop your stakeholder engagement plan from scratch or simply provide independent third-party facilitation, focused on issues affecting organisational success. We provide practical, pragmatic, impartial support right through to rolling out and documenting your stakeholder engagement strategy and results.

We will take time to explore your goals and intentions, and guide you through the stakeholder identification process – allowing you to categorise, prioritise and understand your existing and potential stakeholder relationships. We can help shape your stakeholder engagement experience and support various engagement interventions. Our consultants can also help you explore the results, enabling you to respond to feedback and create tailored messages designed to strengthen stakeholder support. This includes supporting directors and others in the personal delivery of specific stakeholder messages.

Sam, MarkAlastair and Clare are our lead consultants in this area, with Susie for support in personal delivery.

Strategic health and safety review

Do you fully understand where your business is with respect to H&S legal compliance? Would your business benefit from a strategic review? If so, we can help.

Our immensely experienced consultant assessor can review your businesses compliance with H&S legislation and standards against a set of key criteria (agreed with you in advance) and prepare for you a detailed and prioritised report.

Why carry out a review?

  • Reassurance that, as business, you’re doing what you should be
  • Benefit from a focused report directing future actions
  • Ensure better management of limited resource

Penalties for infringing H&S legislation can be severe – and personal. Why wouldn’t you want to check that all is as it should be?

Subash is our lead consultant in this specialist area.

For a no-obligation discussion about whether and how we could help you with a boardroom issue, please just give us a call on 01582 463465 and we’ll happily put you in touch with a consultant, so that you can discuss it directly with them on a ‘no obligation’ basis.